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Air Force basketball notes: Team displays defensive adjustments on the inside

By: BRENT BRIGGEMAN
February 6, 2013
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photo - New Mexico's Cameron Bairstow, left, shoots against Air Force's DeLovell Earls in the second half of their NCAA college basketball game in Albuquerque, N.M., Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. New Mexico won 81-58. (AP Photo/Eric Draper) Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
New Mexico's Cameron Bairstow, left, shoots against Air Force's DeLovell Earls in the second half of their NCAA college basketball game in Albuquerque, N.M., Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. New Mexico won 81-58. (AP Photo/Eric Draper) Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 

Compensation strategies

New Mexico’s advantage on the inside was obvious throughout.

Center Alex Kirk scored seven of the Lobos’ first nine points. The Lobos outrebounded Air Force 39-24 and enjoyed a 30-16 advantage on points in the paint.

Such discrepancies have buried the Falcons at times, including in their most recent loss at Colorado State on Jan. 16. But for a prolonged stretch in the second half, they showed how they might be able to compensate for their lack in size when they see these teams again.

The approach started with good ball pressure on the perimeter, with an inside defender fronting the Lobos’ player. When they did pass inside, one of two things happened, either the Air Force’s backside defender swooped in for a steal or the New Mexico player catching the ball was fouled.

It was effective, largely because New Mexico hit just 20-of-31 free throws, as Air Force put itself back into the game.

The downside is that someone else was generally left open, and New Mexico made 9-of-20 3-point attempts.

“It almost took three men to guard them,” Air Force center Taylor Broekhuis said.

 

Seniors last time in the Pit

Air Force’s five seniors left New Mexico for the final time without having earned a victory here. They’ll still have fond memories of the venue and fan base generally regarded as the best in the Mountain West.

“It’s packed every game no matter who they’re playing,” Falcons guard Kyle Green said. “I’ll always remember sold-out games, even when we weren’t doing as well. It’s a good experience.”

 

Moving on up

With 16 points, Michael Lyons moved to No. 6 on Air Force’s all-time scoring list with 1,375 points. … Todd Fletcher jumped into ninth place on the school’s career steals list with 126.

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